Moon, Earth and Sun


SOL 4.7
The student will investigate and understand the relationships among the Earth, moon, and sun.

SOL 3.8
The student will investigate and understand the relationships among the Earth, moon, and sun. Key concepts include the motions of the Earth, moon, and sun (revolution and rotation)

(Adopted from the Earth, Moon and Science Kit from Carolina Biological Supply Company)





SOL:           Science:







Earth, Moon and Sun  (


1.   Use the moon model support to attach the moon model.  The long leg of the support goes in the top bearing of the earth model.

2.   Just as the earth orbits the sun, the moon orbits the earth.  Move the moon model counterclockwise around the earth model.  It takes about 28 days for the moon to orbit once around the earth.  This is a lunar (moon) month.  Move both models so that the moon model orbits the sun model.

3.   As the moon orbits the earth, we seem to see it change shape.  At first, the moon may be shaped like a circle.  Then it gets thinner and thinner until finally the moon becomes completely dark.  What causes these changes?  To find out, one student should hold the penlight over the sun model and shine its light on the moon model.

4.   Move the moon model in a complete orbit while watching it from across the earth model.  Compare what you see to the diagrams of the moon’s phases shown below.

5.   Match the phases of the moon shown above with the numbered locations shown below.

6.   Remove the moon model and its support, and shine the penlight on the earth model.  Holding the moon model support, move the moon model behind the earth model, and watch the shadow of the earth model cover the moon model. This simulates an eclipse of the moon. Move the moon model around in front of the earth model until it is positioned between the earth and the sun. This simulates an eclipse of the sun. A partial eclipse of the sun occurs when there are positions on the earth from which the moon covers part of the sun. A total eclipse of the sun occurs whenever there are places on earth at which the moon completely hides the sun. During a total eclipse of the sun, it becomes dark, as though night has fallen. Notice that an eclipse of the moon can only take place during a full moon, and an eclipse of the sun can only take place during a new moon. We do not have an eclipse at each new or full moon because the moon’s orbit is tilted as shown in Figure 9. Because of this tilt, the earth’s shadow usually misses the moon, and the moon’s shadow usually misses the earth.

Lynchburg, VA 24503

Last modified Thursday November 24, 2011